The Vikings must keep an eye on the emerging enemy
For 12 consecutive seasons, the Cleveland Browns were “the Browns”, a derogatory name and adjective in sports. The futility lasted from 2008 to 2019 and intermittently before 2008 as well.
Suddenly, in 2020, the Browns dropped the guaranteed doldrums label, reaching the playoffs and toppling division foe Pittsburgh Steelers.
Sooner than later it will happen for a Minnesota Vikings rival – Detroit Lions.
The Lions are led by new leaders, don’t mindlessly write, and seem to be quietly assembling an eyebrow-raising roster. This is how it all begins for a team that feeds the bottom by seeing the light. Small steps begin, new voices take over and eventually one man will become the face of operations.
In all likelihood, the new face will likely be quarterback after Jared Goff, a personality unknown for now. Goff makes a lot of money and Detroit just pays him. The franchise severed ties with longtime smuggler Matthew Stafford 19 months ago, and all he did was win a Super Bowl after slipping away from Motor City. Either way, Goff isn’t the future unless he abruptly starts channeling the energy of 2018 again.
When the new quarterback takes over – likely in 2023 or 2024 – he will inherit a roster that is gradually evolving in a positive way. For example, take a look at the team’s WR corps from 2021:
- Kalif Raymond
- Tyrell Williams
- Quint Cephus
They were the headliners of To start up the 2021 season. Luckily for the Lions, Amon-Ra St. Brown has blossomed as a dazzling playmaker.
Here is the Lions 2022 WR group:
- Amon-Ra St. Brown
- Chark DJ
- jameson williams
- Josh Reynolds
And these are the new headliners. Sure, there’s more to a football team than a handful of wides, but that’s emblematic of the whole depth chart.
Detroit’s trenches – the innards of football – are also getting better. Taylor Decker, Jonah Jackson, Frank Ragnow, Halaoulivaati Vaitai and Penei Sewell make up the offensive line. In defense, it’s Aidan Hutchinson, Alim McNeill, Michael Brockers and Charles Harris.
These are applause trenches – for “the Lions” or any team.
Besides, Detriot is hungry. He took on the identity of head coach Dan Campbell – who can be a little weird – who loves toughness, guts and grit. The Lions are no longer content with doormat status.
You, the Vikings fan, may remember Detroit’s ability to topple Minnesota in Week 13 at Ford Field. The Vikings’ defense crumbled in the aftermath — a 2021 theme, of course — and the Lions essentially cost the Vikings a playoff berth after the math was settled in early January.
More of these cases will occur as the Lions grow. They may not take the league by storm in 2022, but they are coming. Their list suggests so.
This time around, unlike the 2009 era, Detroit will build a team approximately Goff’s successor – not just picking a Stafford and saying ‘find it out’.
They’ve learned their lesson, and it shows in the current roster lineup.
Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube channel, VikesNow. He host a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, airing every Wednesday with Raun Saw and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Guilty pleasures listed: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, “The Sopranos” and The Doors (the band).